The Science of Food

Spencer Award High School Symposium

Saturday, October 1
9:00 am – 12:00 noon

UMKC Spencer Chemistry Builiding
51st Street between Rockhill & Troost
Kansas City, MO 64110
Room 213
free parking in the Lot East of the Spencer Chemistry Building

Pizza and Drinks will be served.  Email your plan of attendance with an estimate of the number of students that will be participating to Eckhard Hellmuth, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, UMKC and Councilor of the KC Section of the American Chemical Society at

Speaker Schedule

Talks will be short in length with plenty of time for active questioning from student participants.

  • Dr. Ingolf Gruen, University of Missouri in Columbia, MO
    Science Fiction of Food – or how would Jules Verne have envisioned the food of the 21st century?
  • Dr. Dennes Mederios, Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS
    Funtional Foods and Nutraceuticals for Your Health
  • Dr. Attila Pavlath, US Department of Agriculture in Albany, CA
    What Chemistry has done for our Food Supply, Sixty Years as a Chemist: Was if worthwhile?
  • Dr. Mark Cook (Spencer Award Nominator), University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI
    Conjugated Linoleic Acid – opened new doors to entrepreneurial pursuits – Adventures of a Food Scientist
  • Dr. Michael Pariza, University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI
    Conjugated Linoleic Acid: How a natural-occurring fatty acid in cow’s milk became a novel food ingredient. – Training your Imagination!


  • Tours of some of the Chemistry Laboratories and information about the Global Water Experiment and International Year of Chemistry Events will also be provided.




KABT Fall Conference

Thanks to Pat Lamb for planning and all who presented and attended to make this year’s Fall Conference successful. Below is a summary of the presentations along with web sites mentioned by each presenter.

Valerie Wright discussed the Konza Environmental Educational Program that students across the state are participating at their locations as well as on The Konza. Students become the researchers and collect data that can be entered into The Konza’s data base. Teachers can have their students record phenology data (first events such as recording when a plant blooms for the first time each year) on their web site and compare year after year. To view data forms and databases go to If you want to know more about the Konza Prairie go to

Students can test their nature-knowledge by participating in an area Ecomeet. Students test in four areas: habitat, focus test, scavenger hunt and interpretation.  To learn more about area ecomeets go to

Noah Busch presented on using Daphnia in the classroom. Effects of chemicals and temperature on heart rate can be studied as well as anatomy, phototactic behavior, and predator response. For more information friend Noah Busch here on

Dr. Eva Horne and Dr. Robbie Bear from KSU listed web sites for programs to help with active learning. Some of these sites are:

Dr. Tony Joern and Adam Skibbe presented recent data collected using GIS on Konza Prairie to determine density distribution of bison. They took KABT on a tour of the Konza and let us view the bison.

Harry McDonald, with Kansas Citizens for Science, invited all to attend the Science Cafe on November 8. For more information go to

Thanks again to all who attended. Next year we will have the Fall Conference at the KU Field Station. We look forward to having you!

KHS Fall Field Trip to Jewell County

September 17-18

I should have posted a few weeks back on this opportunity but it came upon me a bit quick this year.  Usually the trip is held in early to mid-October.  Did you have anything to do with this change, Stan?  jk

Well, since I missed seeing you all at the KABT meeting yesterday, I figured why not post on next weeks field trip and maybe I’d have the chance to catch up there instead.  So, here goes…



The Kansas Herpetolgical Society has been holding field trip since its inception in the mid-1970’s, so I am told.  The mission of the society is, as Joe Collins states on their website:

…to encourage scholarship, research, and dissemination of scientific information through the facilities of the Society; to encourage conservation of wildlife in general and of the herpetofauna of Kansas in particular; and to achieve closer cooperation and understanding between herpetologists, so that they may work together in common cause.

Beside publishing a quarterly newsletter and then journal (see pdf archives), the society has organized a fall meeting, and a spring and fall field trip annually.  This year’s meeting will take place on November 4-6 at the Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita, KS.  A summer field trip was held for the first time in more than 15 years this year as well.  Although the society doesn’t display photos of their trips via their website, you can become a member of a related Kansas Herpetology group on Facebook that does.  Travis Taggart also maintain the wonderful KS Herp Atlas (one cool thing you can do at the site is get a current listing of herpetological taxa by county).

My Experience

I have been participating in the society since the mid-1990’s having been made aware of the society via Dr. David Edds at Emporia State University (thanks David!).  I have taken students to participate in the spring and fall field trips for over a decade now.  You can navigate to my website with pdf slideshows of our past forays.  In fact,  view at least one of these slideshows would be the best way for you to get a feel for what the trips are like.

For those of you that are now considering participation in the KS EcoMeet after yesterday’s introduction, I can say that my students have learned a lot on these trips over the years without realizing they were learning anything.  In fact, our success in winning the state competition the past two years is likely attributable their scoring so well on the herpetology taxa test.  This year’s taxa test is on birds so it won’t help as much but…

So, here is what I do every year to keep this going:

  • I edit a Field Trip Information Form that I prepared years ago for the particular county we will be traveling to.  Click on the link for the form for this year.   I also have particular district forms that need to be handed out and signed by parents as well, and have to make the district aware of the field trip since it usually is quite a distance from school and is an overnight trip as well.
  • I advertise the trip in my classes by showing pictures from a previous field trip, and hold an informational meeting generally 2-3 weeks prior to the event.  If you hold it too soon, student priorities change too much and some will drop out.  By holding it early enough though, you can have a separate meeting the week before the event to arrange whose is bring tents, etc…
  • On the day of the trip, I have students drop off their supplies before school so that I can pack the van during the day and be prepared once the school day is done to get on the road.  In more recent years, I have received permission to leave earlier in the day on those more distant trip so that we might arrive with some daylight remaining.
  • Then, the rest is all about being yourself.  If you demonstrate your passion about the outdoors, your students will behave in kind.  I have never had a bad trip (knock on wood)!

Realize that when I first began involving students in this field trip, I actually met a small number of student at the site for just the Saturday’s events.  I didn’t drive them, I didn’t have a forms, I just told them about this public event and met them there.  So, don’t feel like you have to go for three days, camp out, stay up road cruising until 2:00 am in the morning, etc… 

I’d be happy just to see you on Saturday which would be quite doable for those of you in the middle of the state for this years trip in Jewell County (north of Salina on the Nebraska border).

So, that is that.  I hope you found something that might help you lead a KHS Field Trip in the future.  If you have any questions I will respond to your comments or feel free to e-mail me at

Hope to see you in the field!






KABT Fall Conference 2011

This is my first attempt at a video montage… but the Fall Conference was so awesome I felt I needed to share it with everyone!  A huge thanks to Pat Lamb, Josie Stiles, the K-State folks, and everyone that helped make such a great event possible.


Just click on the picture to view the video.  The link address is also posted.

Better Angels of our Nature

Steven Pinker to Speak at Linda Hall Library

Linda Hall Libary
5109 Cherry Street, Kansas City, Missouri
October 12, 2011
7:00 pm

Lectures are free and open to the public; however, seating is limited and tickets are required. Complete the online form, email or call (816) 926-8772 with your name, address, phone number, and the number of individuals in your party.  Please specify the lectures you plan to attend.  Please contact Eric Ward at 816-926-8753 for more information on this event.

Faced with the ceaseless stream of news about war, crime, and terrorism, one could easily think we live in the most violent age ever seen. Yet as New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows in this startling and engaging new work, just the opposite is true: violence has been diminishing for millennia and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species’s existence. For most of history, war, slavery, infanticide, child abuse, assassinations, pogroms, gruesome punishments, deadly quarrels, and genocide were ordinary features of life. But today, Pinker shows (with the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps) all these forms of violence have dwindled and are widely condemned. How has this happened?

This groundbreaking book continues Pinker’s exploration of the essence of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly nonviolent world. The key, he explains, is to understand our intrinsic motives- the inner demons that incline us toward violence and the better angels that steer us away-and how changing circumstances have allowed our better angels to prevail. Exploding fatalist myths about humankind’s inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious and provocative book is sure to be hotly debated in living rooms and the Pentagon alike, and will challenge and change the way we think about our society.

Here is a link to the Dr. Pinker’s book that goes on sale October 4:

Hope to see you at the lecture!

Dr. Cynthia Kenyon to Speak in Lawrence

Higuchi Memorial Lecture
KU School of Pharmacy, room 2020
Thursday, October 6th
5:30 pm

In 1993, Cynthia Kenyon and colleagues’ discovery that a single-gene mutation could double the lifespan of the tiny roundworm C. elegans sparked an intensive study of the molecular biology of aging. Aging had long been assumed to be a passive consequence of molecular wear and tear. Kenyon was skeptical of this idea, thinking that something as universal and fundamental as aging might well be subject to control by the genes. Kenyon’s discoveries have led to the realization that there exist genetic control circuits for aging, involving hormones as well as proteins that regulate the activities of entire groups of cell-protective genes. The long-lived mutants Kenyon and others have identified are resistant to many age-related diseases, raising the possibility of a new strategy for combating many diseases all at once: targeting aging itself. By manipulating genes and cells, Kenyon and her colleagues extended the lifespan of healthy, active C. elegans by six fold, demonstrating the extraordinary plasticity of aging.

Cynthia Kenyon graduated valedictorian in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of Georgia in 1976. She received her PhD from MIT in 1981 and then did postdoctoral studies with Nobel laureate Sydney Brenner at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, studying the development of C. elegans. Since 1986 she has been at the University of California, San Francisco, Department of Biochemistry, where she was the Herbert Boyer Distinguished Professor and is now an American Cancer Society Professor. Dr. Kenyon has received many honors and awards for her findings. She is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine and she is a past president of the Genetics Society of America. She is now the director of the Hillblom Center for the Biology of Aging at UCSF.

Links of Potential Interest

and if you or your students can’t make the lecture, here are some YouTube videos they may enjoy (I am not sure why I can no longer embed them in the post)… 

Hope to see you there!

School of Ants: Another Citizens Science Project

The School of Ants project is a citizen-scientist driven study of the ants that live in urban areas, particularly around homes and schools. Collection kits are available to anyone interested in participating. Teachers, students, parents, kids, junior-scientists, senior citizens and enthusiasts of all stripes are involved in collecting ants in schoolyards and backyards using a standardized protocol so that we can make detailed maps of the wildlife that lives just outside our doorsteps. The maps that we create with these data are telling us quite a lot about native and introduced ants in cities, not just here in North Carolina, but across the United States and, as this project grows, about the ants of the world!

Follow the link above to find out how you can participate and help inspire your students to become the next E.O. Wilson!